URL: https://www.ephrataband.com/

Ephrata’s first full length release is a self-titled eleven song collection expanding mightily on the promise of their previous EP and harboring the potential to catapult this four piece to the forefront of the genre. Their blend of dreamy vocals with atmospheric guitar work and synthesizer playing comes together without ever sounding forced or plotted out. Their subject matter, as well, has a darker edge but is clearly written for adults rather than propping up some pose of teenage despair. Vocalist Skandi von Reis gives the band an added distinctive quality lacking from similarly themed acts, but it’s the songwriting that ultimately makes Ephrata’s first full length such a memorable listening experience. These are organic composition, no two passages ever sounding mismatched, and flows with a natural order that discerning listeners will find quite satisfying. The stew of influences coming to a boil on this album has youth, a vivid musical imagination, and an appetite for risk taking that makes it one of 2017’s most noteworthy releases.

“Odds” has some memorable guitars and a fierce pulse that makes it an ideal opener. Skandi von Reis is clearly geared, as well, to making the best possible impression out of the starting blocks and delivers an impassioned performance to match the musical intensity. The guitar takes a less melodic approach with the song “Tunguska” and relies, instead, on a brief and bare bones riff that Brady Hall drags out through the entirety of the song. It fits the mood of the piece, however, and the band knows how to build on the tension. The vocals and multi-part harmonies supporting them are, as ever, important parts of the band’s presentation from song to song “Sea of Straight Faces: is a, largely, more elaborate track than any before it and the band develops it with a patience that allows them to explore their full palate of colors. “Fiend Folio” finds the guitar competing for sonic prominence with a variety of other musical elements and the band achieves a dense, assertive sound that still somehow manages to never come off heavy handed.

“What Is Mine” is a more languid, laid back number largely dependent on its superb vocals to sell the song. It’s a track that, as well, ideally reflects the band’s thoughtfulness as songwriters. “Pharaoh” has a stronger commercial edge than many of the album’s other songs and passes the listener by at a breezy, confident pace. Ephrata’s guitar work is much more integrated into the composition here rather than occupying the central musical role and bassist Jules Jordan sets herself apart once again with some exquisite work on the four string. “Sun Scenario” closes the album in a vivid, wide-screen sort of way with a largely instrumental tune, far and away the longest tune on the album, which finds the band stretching out musically and giving the release a final curtain full of texture and color. Ephrata are a special band who stands apart from their genre peers thanks to the sophistication and diversity powering their material.

YOU TUBE: https://www.youtube.com/user/Ephrataband

Michael Saulman